The Omen John Moore

Mental note: if you adopt a baby, check its body from head to toe for a birthmark that resembles the number of the beast. 30 years after Richard Donner introduced the God-fearing world to little Damien, director John Moore revisits the tale of a family who didn’t read the adoptive parents’ rulebook, How to Avoid Armageddon by Not Adopting Satan’s Lovechild.

Actually, it’s Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber), the deputy Ambassador to the U.S. who pulls the boner in Italy when his wife Katherine (Julia Stiles) miscarries. Offered a child by a transparently mischievous priest (c’mon, nobody’s that desperate to unload a child unless it’s evil incarnate), Robert hides the fact that their baby is the product of complete strangers from his wife and they raise wee Damien to be quite the l’il devil — literally. Becoming a handful, the Thorns hire nanny Mrs. Baylock (Mia Farrow), who, wouldn’t you know it, just so happens to be a servant of Satan sent to protect the demonic offspring with her trusty Rottweiler.

Unfortunately, if you’ve seen the original, I needn’t go on; The Omen is a carbon copy of the 1976 film — so much so in fact that apparently only 11 pages of the new script differed from the original. Of course, like every recent Hollywood horror/thriller, the director felt the need to throw in the mandatory startling dream sequences and unapologetic gore for some shock value, which naturally strips David Seltzer’s tale of its notorious spine-chill.

It’s these little changes, which includes trading in the devastating church choir requiems for a brash, mistimed score and a child (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) that is cosmetically made up to look half as heinous as little Harvey Stephens II did three decades ago, that make version 2.006 another run of the mill, turn of the millennium remake. Farrow though, single-handedly saves the film from being completely pointless, returning in a similar-themed tale to the one that made her career (Rosemary’s Baby) and turning her possessed caregiver into an unrelenting lunatic with frequent laughs.

A cash-in? Absolutely, but give the producers some credit for hitting the 666 (aka June 6, 2006) release date, because no marketing budget can buy that kind of publicity for a film such as this. However, with such a weak film for such a devilish date, you wonder if this wasn’t planned years ago with a calendar in hand and dollar signs in the eyes of those who envisioned this lazy project. (Fox)